Amazon Unveils the Fire Phone

by Brandon Chester on 6/18/2014 2:44 PM EST
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  • aksam - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    BT 3.0? oO Reply
  • Brandon Chester - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Yeah I don't get it either but that's right from their specifications. Reply
  • solipsism - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    What makes it more odd is they decided to include 802.11ac which I doubt is as widely used or as useful as BT4.0/BLE. Reply
  • ninjit - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Could that be an Android subsystem software issue?
    FireOS is based on an older Android version (I forget which one introduced BT4.0 support)
    So the hardware is probably there, but it won't get enabled until they update FireOS
    Reply
  • SunLord - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    That has to be a software limit as I'm pretty sure all 800 series SoC support BT4.0 Reply
  • solipsism - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Word from Amazon is that BT 4.0 will come in a later update. Reply
  • madmilk - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Perhaps they're still using Android 4.2? Reply
  • mczak - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    This. The specs say "Compatible with Android 4.2.2, API level 17" - this is the same as Fire OS 3.0 (so the actual OS in Fire OS 3.5 is all the same as 3.0 under the hood I guess, just added the 3d stuff on top of it). And apparently it's already confirmed BT 4.0 (LE) should be supported later (I guess with Fire OS 4.0?). Reply
  • hojnikb - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    650 bucks seems kinda steep for a 720p display and outdated hardware. Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    $199 or $299 on contract for the 32GB and 64GB Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    At $649 and $749 off contract, anyone wanting android would be better off with the S5, One M8, or even better yet - a Nexus 5. I don't see this selling that well at those prices. Reply
  • LordConrad - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    Agreed. I got the Google Play edition of the HTC One M8 and I love it. The screen is gorgeous, and the front facing speakers are awesome. Would be nice if the rear camera had OIS instead of that extra "depth camera". I was worried about battery life since this is my first phone without a removable battery, but so far battery life is very good. Reply
  • Deelron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    The only thing that' s appealing to me is the dedicated camera button, I typically take pictures of my son 1 handed and it'd be easier and faster to do so with a button to launch the app rather then swipe on the screen.

    Other then that it seems like it's a lot of compromises to have 3D features I'm not interested in, particularly on a phone.
    Reply
  • Bkord123 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I think the 3D is all gimmick. Do I actually care that the background moves when I tilt the phone? The degree to which America will buy useless gimmicks staggers me. All fluff, no substance. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    It has to be used for more than just a moving background. If done right this pseudo 3D should be able to extend the information density available on this small screen by.. well, extending things to another dimension. Extend GUIs, view 3D models.. there are certainly some interesting use cases for this! Reply
  • Judgesurreal777 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    They haven't bought it yet Reply
  • Deelron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Yeah this, it seems "America" has rejected buying 3D gimmicks in numerous forms so far. Reply
  • fic2 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Moto X for the camera feature. Flick your wrist to activate phone. Snap pictures to your hearts content. And save $300+. Reply
  • ZPrime - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    You should check out the Moto X. It doesn't have a dedicated button, but all you have to do is twist your wrist twice with the phone in-hand and it turns on the screen and fires up the camera. It's nearly impossible to accidentally trigger, but it's very easy to do when you want it. Reply
  • Deelron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Thanks I'll have to check one out and see how it works with me. Reply
  • althaz - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    No camera button = no buy for any phone, for me. Really, I want a 2-stage camera button for me to seriously consider it. It's one of the reasons I keep buying Nokia phones. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Maybe have a look at one of those new audio out buttons that allow you to have an extra button and configure it to act as a camera one. Reply
  • Colin1497 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    We own 3 Kindle Fire’s (2 of which are actively used by my wife and son), and have bought a few as gifts, and I’ll say that the #1 reason I wouldn’t touch their phone at the current price is Amazon’s lousy software support. In short, Amazon doesn’t support devices that are older than 12 months. 2 of our 3 Kindle Fires were bought on price (a 2011 Fire and a 2013 Fire HD) and one (2012 8.9 Fire HD LTE) was purchased as a more premium item, and that’s a mistake I’ll never make again.

    The 2011 Fire still runs an OS based on Android 2.3.3, even though the 2012 version that is the same except for increased RAM runs a 4.0.3 based version. Amazon abandoned the first gen device even though it certainly would have been viable to update it with an image similar to the 2012 version, as is evidenced by the good support the device has gotten in the XDA Developer community.

    The 2012 Fire HD still runs the 4.0.3 based OS, even though the 2013 budget model Fire HD got a 4.2.2 version running on the same basic hardware. Note that Amazon is STILL selling this 8.9” Fire HD device with the 4.0.3 based OS, almost 2 years after it was released, even though they’ve essentially already done the work to develop the 4.2.2 based Fire OS 3.0 for a very similar device. Really, Amazon!?

    Essentially, Amazon has made it clear that they will not support their hardware any better than the worst of the big Android OEM’s. There is no hope that you will EVER get a major new OS version. At best you will receive fixes for the worst bugs that are discovered during the months following release, but that’s it. You won’t even get security patches after that.

    So, I’m OK buying a 2013 7” Fire HD for my 6 year old. It was $139 for a 16GB tablet (they had a $30 off promotion). He can use it for 12-18 months and move on. I have no real problem buying a Fire HD 8.9” for my 80 year old father for $269 like I did Christmas 2012. It’s good enough, gets him on Facebook, etc. Both are solid budget purchases. The Fire HD LTE wasn’t such a budget purchase. Granted, the cheap LTE plan for 12 months helped make that decision, but I expect a device like that to receive better support than it has. A $650 phone isn’t a budget purchase, and Amazon has shown they can’t be trusted with this sort of purchase.

    I wanted to like the Fire Phone, as I’ve been thinking of getting a new personal phone to use alongside my company purchased iPhone, but if I’m paying $650 for it, it’s not going to be from Amazon.
    Reply
  • kkwst2 - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    Nobody is going to pay $650 for it. You pay $200 for it with a contract. I replace my phones way more often than my tablets so that logic doesn't hold for me. What kills this for me is the stock software. Navigation is inferior to stock Android and no Google apps. I put up with it on my Fire HDX for the Prime integration.

    The reasons I prefer Android for my phones are Google maps, other google integration, removable battery and SD card. This device has none of those. I can't imagine traveling without Google maps anymore. Not sure, maybe it can be side loaded but that is a pain.
    Reply
  • mkozakewich - Monday, June 23, 2014 - link

    No, but you DO pay that price. One of the reasons North America has some of the highest rates in the world is that the prices of the phones are rolled into the plans. You can think of it like a loan, really. These devices are very expensive, so the carriers will give you $500 off if you agree to stick with them for three (or two, now?) years, but will add some of that back into the monthly amounts.

    If I got a phone unlocked, I could get a $20/month plan with everything I needed, or get a simple talk/text plan for $8/month.

    The carriers do give you a slightly cheaper deal with a multi-year contract than you'd get with an unlocked phone and a month-to-month plan with a non-contract carrier, but you have to understand that they aren't just waiving $400-$500 entirely away.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I don't see any killer features that would make me consider this phone over the competition. If they subsidized the phone to make it much cheaper, it would help. Or if they gave you some truly stupendous add-ons with the phone (something way more valuable than 1 yr of Prime), that would help.

    I was expecting something along these lines: A Nexus 5 price (e.g. $350) AND 2 years of Prime and other Amazon-specific goodies.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I was also expecting a more budget oriented approach. That seemed to have worked okay for their tablet line. And considering all the short comings their Android provides, it is needed in my opinion to compete with the N5, LG G2 etc. Reply
  • Stuka87 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Sounds like the 3D gimmick is going to do nothing but suck battery life, and/or make people sick. First thing I did when I updated to iOS7 was turn off the perspective mode.

    Plus, good luck getting any OS updates after 6 months or so. Amazon has shown they pretty much refuse to update their devices.
    Reply
  • HardwareDufus - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    But it's a rectangle with rounded corners. Reply
  • aryonoco - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    This is going to flop faster than you can say "HTC First".

    Bezos is going to find out what a brutally tough market the smartphone market is. Not even the might of Amazon is going to move this unless the price is cut in half in one month.
    Reply
  • djc208 - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    I'm not sure there are many that will be buying it outright anyway. This is for people that already live in the Amazon environment, like most Apple people it's probably more about staying with what they know and own than the latest and greatest in tech, or the ability to cross-shop phone contracts. They have a Kindle(s), and own their content there, this allows them to more easily access it without wifi. It's leveraging the same thing as Apple and Google stores. Reply
  • mkozakewich - Monday, June 23, 2014 - link

    Yeah, but that position would be hugely strengthened if they could at least offer it at $0 on a contract. There's no reason to price this like an iPhone. Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    I think this is pretty awesome. Hopefully they don't start making it any larger than 4.7". If they don't and they release a 1080p phone on T-mo I will be buying one. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    Finally, a phone that's ahead of the curve when it comes to CPU/GPU horsepower, instead of just barely being able to sustain 30 fps! An Adreno 330 pushing only a 720p screen should be the epitome of fluid and consistency, never dropping below 60 fps.

    It's too bad its locked into the Amazon ecosystem (which is very US-centric) and it's hobbled with that stupid gimmicky 3D crap. Remove those two impediments, and it would probably sell like hotcakes (at the right price, of course). It's basically an upgraded Moto X.

    Now, if only more phone manufacturers would follow suit and provide slightly overkill on the SoC (GPU mainly). It's beyond annoying that we have phones with uber-GPUs in them ... that can barely keep up with the pixel-pushing requirements of the 1440p+ screens out there.
    Reply
  • mkozakewich - Monday, June 23, 2014 - link

    It's not so much 3D as it is user-aware. I think there are some interesting applications for a phone that knows when you're looking at it differently.

    Then again, I also see the possibility of it always showing skewed views when you have it sitting on the table, thinking your face is in the bottom corner.
    Reply

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